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Marchon Partners Blog Workplace Trend – Upskilling

29 Nov 2022

What is upskilling?


As an employer, you want to encourage new hires to gain knowledge in order to enhance their work experience and succeed. One way to accomplish this is through upskilling, which is when an employee learns new skills that can help keep your business growing.

This is especially true as companies are currently going through a post-pandemic digital transformation. During the pandemic, when employees had to work from home, many companies relied on technology in order to keep their business intact.

However, according to a 2021 McKinsey survey, only 11% of respondents said their businesses would be economically viable in 2023, if they made no changes to their current business model. Compared to 64% of respondents who recognized that new digital businesses were needed to become viable in 2023. With technology constantly changing this further highlights the need for upskilling.


The difference between hard skills vs. soft skills


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in October 2022 the unemployment rate was 3.7%, giving job candidates the opportunity to find the right work-life balance. Employers are also finding the need to hire employees who possess a balance of both hard and soft skills in order to remain competitive as a business. Some examples include:

Hard Skills – The specific job duties, such as software, social media and project management skills. This would also include math, writing, and the expertise to solve problems. Basically, having the knowledge and training to complete their work duties.

Soft Skills – These are the traits that help you accomplish your goals. Such as communication, self-direction, dependability, flexibility and creativity. Having soft skills compliments hard skills by allowing an employee to work effectively with people versus only on tasks.

As technology advancements demand that skilled workers stay current on the latest versions of applications, the soft skills that employers also seek in 2022, according to Forbes, includes:

Empathetic Listening – This is the type of listening that goes beyond waiting for your turn to respond. and allows for the chance to listen to concerns by asking more open-ended questions.

Adaptability The ability to respond quickly when a project needs to change. Also, considering how that change affects other team members and understanding the impact on them.

Emotional Intelligence – Self-awareness of how emotions are managed and being able to perceive the impact on others. This includes how we show our assertiveness and empathy.

Enthusiasm – New work experiences that are approached in a positive way that fosters enthusiasm and engagement for both the employee and other team members.


New upskilling strategies that employers are offering


According to the McKinsey Quarterly, 43% of companies in 2021 said they were experiencing a skills gap. A skills gap is when the skills required to do a particular job can’t be achieved due to a lack of qualified candidates. The areas that have some of the largest skills gaps according to Workest by Zenefits include:

  • Education
  • Business Services
  • Transportation
  • Health Care 

According to Indeed there are various ways that employers are addressing their skills gap by offering various upskilling training that include:

Assessment – Assessing what your current employee indicates are the skills they need makes the process easier for determining the best and most efficient way for focusing their training for the best results.

Online Training – A webinar that is offered by the company internally or an outside class at a scheduled time. This is good for employers who want to offer self-paced training or offer a course that can be accessed remotely making it more flexible for the employee.

In-Person Training – This could include outside trainers who present a formal training for part of the work day, a lunch and learn that is less formal, or a mentorship program where the employee can ask questions and do tasks related to the new skills they learn as a practical application.

Conferences – These could be for a half day up to a week that concentrate on either their job or  industry. This would give the employee a way to learn while interacting with other professionals providing additional networking, and educational opportunities

Employees may also explore reskilling training after upskilling. Reskilling is when an employee learns new skills for transitioning to a completely different career path. For example, if someone was transferring from the accounting department to the sales team, they could already have the right financial knowledge but need some additional marketing training.

Benefits of upskilling that help both employers and employees

According to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jobs Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), as of September 2022, there were 10,717,000 job openings available. This is a challenge for employers who need qualified workers and when upskilling can successfully fill the skills gap. Some of the direct benefits include:

Cost – Both recruiting and hiring an employee can cost thousands of dollars, which Indeed estimates to be an average of $4,000 – $20,000. Also, existing employees don’t need to be onboarded which can also add to the cost.

Retention – If a position needs to be filled multiple times during the year that can be frustrating for the entire team. Just as they get used to working with the new hire, they leave. Whereas, if existing employees are offered new challenges, they tend to stay longer and not job hop.

Productivity – As upskilled employees become more confident, they are usually happier, and also more productive. Many use their time effectively due to feeling engaged with their customers, co-workers and managers.